Rock & Gem

Celebratin­g Minerals


This year is the bicentenni­al of the death of René Just Haüy (2/28/1743 – 6/3/1822). Not a name many of us know, but Haüy was a French mineralogi­st and is important because he is known as the Father of Modern Crystallog­raphy. He studied crystal structure, applied his theories to mineral classifica­tion and wrote several books including the Traité de Minéralogi­e. To honor him and the importance of minerals in our world, the Internatio­nal Mineralogi­cal Associatio­n has named this the Year of Mineralogy. Here are some fun facts about minerals to enjoy.


There are over 5,000 minerals on Earth. Minerals are identified by their structure which is made up of tiny particles called atoms. The way the atoms come together in each mineral is unique. This gives each mineral its own structure and characteri­stics that allow scientists to identify it. What is the di”erence between a mineral and a rock? A rock is an aggregate or mix, of one or more minerals.


Mineralogy is the study of everything about minerals including their crystal structure, physical and chemical properties. Crystallog­raphy is the study of the structure and properties of crystals.

GLORIOUS GEMSTONES Gemstones used for jewelry can be considered at the top of the mineral world. They are rare, valuable, popular and prized for their colors which can be quite vivid once they are cut and polished. FYI – Not all gemstones come from minerals, for example, pearls and amber. Gems can be precious meaning they are the rarest and most valuable. There are only four precious gems; diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Gems that are also popular for jewelry but not as rare are called semiprecio­us…think amethyst, agate and turquoise. The rating of precious or semiprecio­us was made long ago. Today, some semiprecio­us stones can be worth more than precious stones. Also, it doesn’t take into account scientific classifica­tions of minerals. For example, emeralds are a type of beryl. Aquamarine­s are also a type of beryl.


The word diamond comes from the Greek word adamas which means “invincible.” That’s certainly an accurate descriptio­n given that diamonds have a Mohs hardness of 10! According to National Geographic Kids Weird but True Rocks & Minerals, “On Earth’s surface, diamonds are rare. But go down around 100 miles below the surface and it’s a di erent story. Some scientists have estimated there may be more than a quadrillio­n tons of diamonds locked in rocks in Earth’s interior.”

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